For those who have not visited A Great Yarn, each month we create a unique “Chatham Yarn,” which is hand-dyed by our great friend Shellee Poulin. Our goal is to recreate an iconic Chatham landmark in yarn. Beginning last August, we decided that for six months we would focus on “Hidden Treasures of Chatham,” which are places that many visitors might have missed in favor of trips to the lighthouse or fish pier.
Our fifth hidden Chatham treasure is the Cape Cod Fiddlers. If you’ve heard the Fiddlers perform, you already know that no one on the planet gives a better live performance. And if you’re planning to see the Fiddlers at Chatham’s annual First Night celebration later this month, make sure you get in line early, because we’re not the only ones who are convinced that the Fiddlers are always the highlight of the New Year’s Eve festivities.
The Fiddlers are led by Billy Hardy, one of two professional musicians in the eight-member ensemble. The other members of the group are a pretty eclectic mix: an architect, a graphic designer, two teachers, a lawyer, the Irish music librarian at Boston College, and the retired shellfish warder from Chatham
The group has been playing together for nearly 30 years, and is known far and wide for their energetic performances, drawn from the best fiddling traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Quebec and the United States. Their version of Simple Gifts from The Lord of the Dance will blow you away.
The Fiddlers are also part of the glue that accounts for the remarkable staying power of the fiddle, the common man’s violin that was an indispensable element of the house parties, barn dances, and social occasions that for generations bound communities together. According to Hardy, “The only difference between a violin and a fiddle is that nobody cares if you spill beer on the fiddle.’’ Another was of looking at the difference is that “the violin sings, but the fiddle dances.’’
We’ve tried to do justice to the Cape Cod Fiddlers with December’s Chatham Yarn of the Month. The yarn is DK weight, made with 100% superwash merino, and each skein contains approximately 231 yards. As always, our Chatham Yarn of the Month was hand-dyed by Shellee from HauteKnit Yarn.